Kate Kendell

Enduring Love

Filed By Kate Kendell | June 16, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Gay Icons and History, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California, Del Martin, Gavin Newsom, gay marriage, lesbian marriage, marriage equality, Phyllis Lyon, same-sex marriage, San Francisco

This morning, I woke up with such a full heart and an amazing sense of déjà vu. Today I am going to San Francisco City Hall, to the mayor's office, and will witness history. I will be surrounded by familiar faces, the faces of heroes. I will stand before two of the most extraordinary women in my life and watch them affirm their love and relationship. I will watch Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin exchange vows, and as I watch, I will have the full confidence that their marriage is as enduring as their love.

lyon_martin.jpgFour years ago, Phyllis and Del married in secret, with fewer than a dozen people in the room. When we all woke up the next morning, it was a different world. It felt unreal and magical, a dream that I had to close my eyes to remember. Today is different. Phyllis and Del had time--although not much--to print invitations and plan a reception. Family and friends could make travel arrangements and fly in for the ceremony. Today will be a day full of joy and celebration. I am so proud to pay witness to this moment in history and pay tribute to two of the founding mothers of our movement.

I asked Phyllis and Del what they planned to do after Monday, and they said they wanted to have their party and then rest. They plan to play cards, read, watch the news, and attend the wedding of close friends. In other words, they plan to live just as they did yesterday, last week, last month, and last year. They plan to enjoy the extraordinariness of ordinary love, the comfort of sitting next to the person you love most in the world. Phyllis and Del have been sitting side by side for 55 years. Tomorrow they will wake up and their love will be the same--extraordinary and ordinary all at the same time--but they will be married, a gift and a fundamental right they never thought they would live to see.

I know as I witness this extraordinary moment, I will cry--even thinking about it makes me well up. I feel so lucky to be alive for this history that I really cannot describe it. I know my heart will grow fuller and fuller as the days go on and more and more couples affirm their commitment and love. The celebration and joy will continue but over time the weddings will become commonplace. The love will remain extraordinary, but our marriages will be beautiful and ordinary--as they should be.

I very much hope that 10 or even 5 years from now, the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples to marry is no more remarkable than our right to a workplace free from discrimination, our right to safe school hallways, our right to live free from violence, or our ability to live fully and openly. I know that in most places in this country none of this has been achieved. I know that in every state, regardless of what the laws say, there are LGBT folks who live lives tinged with fear and marked by bigotry. But I also know that today marks an unprecedented new beginning and a turn away from the worst we have suffered.

It does not matter if you are gay or straight--today is about shared humanity and being in love. That's a déjà vu we all get to share.


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Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 16, 2008 11:11 AM

Beautiful in that it is so simply true. They will spend each day of the rest of their lives living for one another regardless of whatever any church or state might say.

Thank you for sharing this, Kate. Phyllis and Del are amazing pioneers for our community. They deserve all the happiness in the world...

I love it that you are the first person in the background of the picture from their 1st wedding. Now you'll be at their legal wedding.

That's simply amazing.

This is truly wonderful. I first became aware of Phyllis and Del's pioneering efforts when I was a younger queer identified person during the mid 70s. Maz'l Tov on your wedding day! May you enjoy many more years together.

How beautiful, thanks for postin' this, Kate.

I first read about their work in Eric Marcus's book. It's one of those things - think of how far we've come.

I was trying to explain to my partner *how* significant Phyllis and Del are to our community; that they're not merely a sweet couple who have been together for 55 years. The only way I could think to do it so it would have a visceral impact on her was to compare it to the trans experience.

I reminded her about how the first thing we do when we contemplate transition is to get the book "True Selves". Well, in the mid 70's, I told her, when you come out as a lesbian, the first thing you do is to get their book "Lesbian/Woman". That made sense to her.

So, I went over to the bookcase, and I pulled out the book to show to her. I wanted her to see the 1972 copyright on it. She took the book from me, and much to my surprise, brought it with her back to the bedroom as her next bedtime read.

So aside from being the public face of same sex marriage, their presence is continuing to educate people and have their story told.

Congratulations to them, and thank you to Kate Kendall, Shannon Minter, and all of the other people who made this day possible.

www.labinkypark.com join in this most historical marriage of two very extrodinary womenwho havr lived, loved, laughed and cried for 55 years and now have the freedom and the right to celebrate that love with family and friends. Congradulations ladies. We all love you!